Apple iPad Air (4th gen)

MSRP $599.00

“The iPad Air 4 is the iPad Professional for the lots. It is completely located to supply an distinctive pill expertise, with out pushing into the territory of high-end laptop computer pricing.”

Execs

  • Wonderful {hardware} design
  • Robust battery life and USB-C
  • Great show
  • Professional-level efficiency
  • Magic Keyboard assist
  • Quick fingerprint sensor

Cons

  • Base 64GB of storage
  • Costly upsell to 256GB

On the face of it, the brand new iPad Air (4th gen) seems like an ideal Goldilocks iPad. In comparison with the bottom iPad, it has dramatically higher specs, a totally new design, a significantly better show, and double the bottom storage. On the similar time, it’s $200 cheaper than the 11-inch iPad Professional, however seems and feels practically an identical, and in all sensible functions provides the identical core expertise, together with assist for the Apple Pencil 2 and Magic Keyboard.

So for $599, is the brand new iPad Air the pill to get? Truly, it simply could also be one of the best worth you will get in an iPad as we speak.

{Hardware}, design, and show

Apple did an distinctive job with the design of the newest iPad Execs, so I’m not upset within the slightest that the iPad Air is a carbon copy. The steel physique is completely flat throughout the again — save for the digital camera bump — and runs into flat sides. It simply feels recent and fashionable in comparison with the outdated curvy fashion — significantly now that it matches with the iPhone 12’s design. It’s additionally obtainable in a greater diversity of colours, that are way more playful than any prior iPad. Although most individuals will go for a boring colour like my Area Grey mannequin, you may go vibrant if you wish to specific your character a bit. (The iPad Professional is caught with grey and silver, for now.)

iPad Air 4Andrew Martonik/Digital Developments

It’s cheap to suppose that the design could be powerful in your hand, nevertheless it isn’t. The transitions from again to facet are good and clean, and the corners have a large radius, so it’s fairly comfy whether or not you’re simply propping it up with one hand or holding it in panorama mode with two. And with its extraordinarily mild 1-pound weight, which is evenly distributed, it positively earns its “Air” moniker.

As a result of it’s lacking Face ID from the Professional, you’ll discover a Contact ID fingerprint sensor built-in into the facility button. It’s positioned properly to make use of along with your proper index finger when holding it vertically, and your left index finger when horizontal. And the preliminary setup course of makes it clear that you’ll want to educate it each instructions. Following that fast tutorial, the sensor was quick and correct. Whereas it will not be as seamless as Face ID, it’s a superbly usable authentication technique — and it not requires a big display screen bezel to be embedded within the house button.

iPad Air 4Andrew Martonik/Digital Developments

The ten.9-inch show is just fantastic. There’s simply sufficient bezel round it to simply get a grip along with your thumb when wanted, nevertheless it’s not so massive that it feels clunky. It isn’t the identical show because the iPad Professional, however to most individuals’s eyes, it seems prefer it could possibly be. It has the identical pixel density, super-low reflectivity, vast colour gamut, and True Tone colour adjustment. It’s technically not as vibrant, however I by no means had hassle seeing the display screen indoors or outside. The truth that it’s a laminated show and has extremely low reflectivity signifies that even in direct solar, you may nonetheless use it simply.

The {hardware} is ideal, and the show is just fantastic.

The one flaw, in case you might name it that, I discovered is a little bit of white-pink colour shift when the display screen is considered a bit off-axis, which actually solely comes into play if somebody sitting subsequent to you can be wanting on the pill. You may additionally level to the truth that this show has only a 60Hz refresh charge, not the dynamic 120Hz “Professional Movement” of the iPad Professional. Should you’re used to an iPad Professional, you’ll discover; in case you are used to another iPad, you’d by no means complain as a result of iPadOS is so clean, it actually helps make up the distinction.

One other Professional-level function of the Air is its audio system. You get an equal-sized pair of audio system break up on the edges (in panorama) for balanced sound that may get extremely loud. The location makes it practically not possible to dam the entire sound, and the 50/50 break up makes it way more immersive for video watching.

Whether or not it was simply taking the straightforward method out or a stroke of genius, making the iPad Air appropriate with current iPad Professional keyboard equipment is a big profit. Meaning the present $179 keyboard folio (which is nicer than the one for the bottom iPad, by the way in which) and the absurdly costly however utterly superb $299 Magic Keyboard work with the Air. Chances are high if the Air had a definite design, it’d be caught with only a folio and never get its personal model of the Magic Keyboard.

The iPad Air nearly requires a keyboard — and that’ll set you again at the very least $170.

I opted to get a daily folio with my Air as a result of I believe that spending $300 on a keyboard for a $600 iPad is absurd. However I can simply see the argument that by saving $200 from not getting the iPad Professional, you may justify that steep price ticket. And in case you’re going to make use of the iPad Air for any semblance of labor or computer-like duties, you completely want a keyboard. The keyboard folio positively will get the job accomplished, and I’m in a position to sort on it in a short time, however I want one in every of its two stand angles was flatter. It additionally suffers from the identical drawback as all keyboarded iPads (sans the Magic Keyboard) in that it may be a bit wobbly when truly utilizing it in your lap. That’s simply part of making an attempt to make an iPad right into a laptop-level productiveness machine.

One other barely awkward part of that horizontal-first use is the front-facing digital camera, which is on the lefthand facet while you’re docked on the keyboard. The 7-megapixel sensor is high-quality and totally will get the job accomplished for video calls with 1080p decision, however having it off to the left — making it appear like you’re not paying consideration — all the time feels bizarre in comparison with a laptop computer.

Software program, options, and battery life

Everyone knows the main points of iPadOS 14 at this level. Coming from another iPad, you’ll really feel proper at house on the Air. However with this massive display screen and additional energy at your disposal, you’ll need to refresh your data of the myriad multitasking gestures obtainable in iPadOS. With out understanding methods to open break up view and lide Over for multi-window administration, or the gestures to rapidly hop between apps and pull up the dock with out going house, you actually miss out on the facility of this machine. Whereas iPadOS continues to wrestle with approachability, there’s no actual affordance to be taught all of its capabilities. However when you do, you’ll be shocked by how a lot you will get accomplished.

iPad Air 4Andrew Martonik/Digital Developments Andrew Martonik/Digital Developments

And also you actually can get quite a bit accomplished on the Air, due to its A14 Bionic chip that’s shared with the iPhone 12. It’s technically sooner for single-core efficiency than the iPad Professional’s A12Z, although it’s additionally technically a tad behind for multi-core efficiency. Regardless, you wouldn’t know the distinction — the iPad Air flies by means of any activity. You actually solely hit a limitation in case you’re utilizing an intense graphical app and biking by means of Slide Over apps — however that’s only a delicate delay. It’s probably as a result of Air having solely 4GB of RAM (reminiscence), to the iPad Professional’s 6GB.

Apple talks a giant sport with the multi-camera array, and LiDAR sensor, on the iPad Professional, however for most individuals the easy single 12MP digital camera on the Air can be greater than sufficient for the occasional snap. Regardless of hopes that the high-end cameras and depth sensing would flip the iPad Professional into some type of revolutionary AR machine for gaming and doing inside design work, it merely hasn’t. A overwhelming majority of individuals can be joyful that the Air has a smaller digital camera bulge, and the value is decrease.

The one spec truly holding the iPad Air again is its storage, which is a meager 64GB within the base mannequin. And there’s just one improve choice: 256GB, for $150 additional. Having an upsell for extra storage that’s 25% of the bottom value is basically tough, particularly while you have a look at the easy storage improve on one thing just like the iPhone 12, which fees simply $50 to go from 64GB to 128GB.

That being stated, I’m utilizing solely 22GB of my 64GB mannequin after two weeks, however maybe I’m not the heaviest iPad person as a result of it’s a secondary machine to my MacBook Professional. However in case you’re aiming to make use of an iPad Air like most would a Professional, loading up enormous “professional” apps and plenty of media content material, that storage might vanish rapidly. Alternatively, I suppose you would actually lean into iCloud — that $150 upsell cost might cowl a 200GB storage plan for over 4 years.

There’s greater than sufficient energy right here, and battery life continues to be an iPad robust swimsuit.

The important thing good thing about utilizing an iPad over a equally priced laptop computer is battery. The iPad Air can simply deal with the heaviest day of labor, with 6-plus hours of “screen-on” time, and no battery mitigation measures, and nonetheless have loads of battery remaining. Easy duties like simply streaming video or looking barely contact the battery, and iPadOS continues to be unbelievable at utilizing barely any energy when not actively in use. Contemplating only a few persons are utilizing the Air as their solely computing machine, there’s little doubt that it may be part of your machine utilization each day and go a number of days on a cost.

And my goodness — I’m method too enthusiastic about this, however I don’t care — the iPad Air now fees over USB-C! Sure, now I can cost my Air with the identical actual cable and charger I exploit with my MacBook and Android phones. Sure, I’ve an iPhone and so there are Lightning cables round, however my house is suffering from USB-C cables of all lengths and kinds, and it simply makes it dead-simple to cost my iPad. It additionally has the knock-on impact of letting me cost phones from the iPad, which is definitely very nice to have in a pinch.

To your hefty $599 price ticket, you additionally get a 20-watt USB-C charging brick within the field, in addition to a pleasant (albeit quick) USB-C cable. However I doubt I’ll ever contact them.

Our take

The bottom iPad is a pill you purchase as an equipment — one thing you want, however you’re not enthusiastic about. The brand new iPad Air is a pill you purchase as an aspirational instrument — you want to have it, and also you’ll attempt to benefit from its capabilities when it arrives. And it has to chops to deal with an entire lot of what you’ll throw at it.

The {hardware} is great, as is the show, and nothing concerning the design or feeling in your fingers makes you suppose for a second that you simply saved $200 over an iPad Professional. Apple completely trimmed the parts of the iPad Professional that most individuals received’t care about, and stored the whole lot else that makes it nice, together with Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard assist. Pair it with a keyboard, and be taught the quirks of iPadOS, and you’ll even flip this into a reasonably succesful laptop computer substitute — as long as you recognize its limitations, that are within the software program way over the ultracapable specs.

The one knock in opposition to the Air is in its pricing in case you don’t need to get a keyboard and push the boundaries of the A14 Bionic. If that is going to only be a pill for media consumption and informal looking, $599 is a steep value and the additional capabilities of this {hardware} can be misplaced on you. However simply understanding you can do way more could possibly be sufficient to make you spend the cash and get this, one of the best all-around iPad mannequin.

Are there higher options?

There are solely two options to the iPad Air, and just one is an affordable comparability. You’ll be able to spend $429 on an iPad (eighth gen) with 128GB of storage, however frankly it isn’t a correct competitor. The bottom iPad is a high-quality pill for lots of makes use of, nevertheless it isn’t in the identical league when it comes to efficiency or show high quality, and doesn’t in any respect exude the sense of being high-end in the way in which the iPad Air and Professional do. It additionally isn’t appropriate with the Apple Pencil 2 or the Magic Keyboard.

So the true determination right here is between the iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Professional, which begins at $799. For that cash, you get 128GB of storage, in addition to Face ID, a 120Hz ProMotion show, and extra cameras. However in any other case, within the core options and fundamentals of what most individuals will use the iPad for, the expertise actually isn’t appreciably totally different. Identical to shopping for an iPhone 12 Professional or a MacBook Professional, you’re spending fairly a bit additional to eke out that final bit of additional energy, efficiency, and options over the bottom mannequin.

How lengthy will it final?

One of many massive advantages of shopping for an iPad of any stage is great long-term software program assist. You’ll be able to count on the iPad Air to get one other 5 variations of iPadOS, in case you’re so inclined to hold onto it for that lengthy. And higher but, with the iPad Air’s extremely highly effective A14 chipset, it’ll be capable to run these future iPadOS variations with none situation.

Must you purchase it?

Sure. Should you’ve been eyeing an iPad Professional however didn’t need to spend that a lot cash, the iPad Air is a superb place to land. You’ll get many of the expertise of an 11-inch iPad Professional, however save a substantial amount of cash. Nonetheless, in case you can’t get the iPad Professional from the again of the thoughts, you may all the time await the Black Friday iPad offers which might be across the nook.

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